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Dr. Tim Oberlander

Physician Scientist Professor

Department of Pediatrics

Faculty of Medicine

University of British Columbia

Discovery (Biological & Genetic Mechanisms)

Dr. Tim Oberlander is a physician-scientist whose work bridges developmental neurosciences and community child health.  He is a developmental pediatrician and works as the medical lead for the Complex Pain Service at BC Children’s Hospital. 

Since 1996, Dr Oberlander has led a research program seeking to understand how early life experiences, related to in utero exposure to antidepressants and prenatal maternal mood, shapes stress reactivity, cognition and attention during childhood in ways that contribute to the early origins of self-regulation. 

His work provides strong evidence that both prenatal maternal mood disturbances and exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants influence infant and childhood behavior, possibly via early changes in central serotonin signaling. Using a variety of approaches that includes studies of genetic and metabolic stress-related factors and measures of cognition and neuroimaging (MRI), his work shows that the developing brain has a remarkable capacity for plasticity and recovery. 

Importantly, his works also demonstrates that mother’s mood matters in ways that contribute to developmental risk and resiliency.  

His work is driven by a curiosity and passion to know why, even in the face of adversity, some children do very well while others have more difficulty with learning, thinking and behavior. The goal of his work is to understand how both mothers and children contribute to development and uncover why this happens.

Area of Research Expertise
Perinatal mental health; Antidepressants; Infant and child development and behaviour